Whiskey stones have been in the top charts, must-have and wish lists for a while already, but the craze isn’t going anywhere, and we’re pretty confident this is not just a phase and whiskey stones are here to stay. In this guide, we’ll walk you through the science behind those little cubes, different types that are currently available on the market, and of course review the TOP 5 Best Whiskey Stones that are well worth the investment.
- What are whiskey stones & how they work?
- Are whiskey stones better than ice? Benefits & Limitations
- How to use whiskey stones?
- What are whiskey stones made of?
- How long do whiskey stones last?
- TOP 5 Best Whiskey Stones
- Tips for drinking whiskey or bourbon
My ex was obsessed with an idea of getting crystal clear ice balls for his scotch, like those served in speakeasies. And if you like whiskey, then you know the struggle. Sometimes he reminded me of a crazy amateur chemist who’d do anything to get his alchemy work. And indeed, as far as I remember, the struggle was real. From his standpoint, the cloudy ice was somehow not as aesthetic as a crystal clear transparent piece of ice. He would read all the DIY advises on a myriad of forums populated with refined spirit drinkers, devoured dozens of youtube videos, bought questionable tools and accessories online, and finally tried all of the stuff combined. And you know what? After a while, he did make it work: his ice was as clear as the ones in high-end bars. I’d never seen him use any of those whiskey stones, but that was also a while ago, and the stones seem like a relatively new craze. So I decided to find out if the stones really worked and if they were any better than the good old plain ice cubes.
Whiskey stones are cubes of solid soapstone or metal that should be stored in a freezer prior to serving. The idea? They would chill the spirit without diluting it. However, not all aficionados would prefer whiskey stones to regular ice balls or a splash of water. Every avid bourbon or whiskey lover would have their own way of drinking their favorite libation. Moreover, some would even say that whiskey stones are for hipsters or beginners. And indeed, while stones have been around for a decade, they have only recently emerged on the front shelves of design stores, and become a regular feature in all gift guides around the country. And they do look super stylish and sleek with their little cute shapes and geometrical design.
But what’s the science behind those innovations? The answer lies in thermodynamics: the heat flows from warm to cold through conduction, convection, and radiation, until it reaches an equilibrium temperature. In the case of stones, while the whiskey gets colder, the stones get warmer until they hit roughly the same temperature.
But let’s look in more detail at benefits and limitations of stones as compared to regular ice cubes.
- They won’t dilute your drink
- They would initially cool your drink faster than the ice cubes (the density of soapstones, for example, is three times bigger than that of ice, meaning it will be more effective at cooling the drink at first)
- If you want to achieve a cooler drink, just add more stones
- Some versions of stones are just as good as ice (those made of stainless steel)
- They are tasteless and odorless, thus won’t add any unnecessary smells or tastes to your spirit (as opposed to low-quality ice)
- Water (ice) has a high heat capacity, thus it is much better at cooling things
- Ice absorbs the heat in three distinctive ways: first, it absorbs the temperature to reach a fusion point, then it takes more energy to switch the phase from solid to liquid, and finally absorb the heat to become warmer than 32 F (0 Celsius).
- Whereas stones work only on heat capacity (and the heat capacity of soapstones, for example, is 0.9, while for ice is 2.1, meaning they are way less effective than the ice)
- By 25-20 minutes, a drink usually reaches the room temperature, rendering stone cubes ineffective (in case you like to sip your spirit for long)
- Many refined spirit drinkers advocate the use of ice because it’s better for whiskey: it enhances the drink enabling other subtle flavors to come through. But more on this a little later in the article.
All of the whiskey stones have to be pre-chilled in a freezer, some for just an hour, others preferably overnight. After you take them out of your freezer, put them in a drink and sip!
There are different types of whiskey stones over there, and it’s critical to look for high-quality materials, because you can end up with a dirty or foamy drink, and you certainly wouldn’t want that.
The cheapest stones are usually made of soapstones, and while they are considered traditional whiskey stones, they won’t do much in terms of really chilling your drink and sustain that temperature for long.
Then there are steel cubes with or without cooling gel inside, and they are indeed pretty potent in getting down the temperature of the drink faster and keep it chilled longer.
The granite rocks are better than the soapstones but would perform inferior to the stainless steel.
And then there’s well…ice, but you know about that one, right?
Generally, they would last about 20-25 minutes, speaking of chilling properties. Then you would have to add more stones or re-freeze them again. But 20 minutes should be enough for a drink. Don’t you think? If you, however, prefer to sip your drink for longer than that, keep a stack of these in a fridge or just stick to plain ice.
Further discussion below elaborates on some of the top-notch versions of whiskey stones that are currently available for purchase. We sifted through a lot of chaff before we’ve arrived with these TOP sets of chill rocks, and here you’ll find versions for every budget and taste, from cheap soapstones to classy granite and minimalist stainless steel. Some are so handsomely packaged, you wouldn’t want to give them away.
6 Whiskey Stones – Natural Granite – 2 Crystal Whiskey Shot Glasses in Wooden Box | Lord’s Rocks
In case you don’t like looking around for gift boxes and such, then this gift set is a perfect option for you. It has everything laid out smoothly in an aesthetically beautiful wooden box with shot glasses and a set of 6 natural granite stones. The stones are indeed look absolutely rigid and sturdy, but there’s also some magically warm feeling to their ruggedness, which seriously makes you want to add them to your drinking routine. And as the seller puts it, the quality is so superior, that these stones would add a statement for any party. Beside the exquisitely crafted pine box and crystal clear shot glasses, you’ll also get a luxurious freezer pouch made of smooth velvet which is nice to the touch.
Many customers really appreciated the gift set, praising its beauty, durability, originality, and more importantly the quality of the whiskey stones. Those, who complained, often mentioned the size of the stones and glasses, having thought they would be somewhat bigger than they actually were. So, one more time, for those of you who don’t like to check product description before buying, these are plain 80 ml shot glasses (not sipping or drinking), and ice cubes are of a size of an inch.
9 Grey Beverage Chill Soapstone Rocks – in Gift Box with Velvet Carrying Pouch | Quiseen
This is the set of just 9 grey soapstone rocks that come in a gift box with velvet carrying and freezing pouch. You’re not getting any glasses or wooden boxes, unlike with the first option we’ve covered above. But it’s also priced much less, and would roughly cost you around 10 dollars, which is a pretty good deal, provided these stones are ultimate bestsellers in their category. These stones are indeed live up to their status: they are made from high-quality 100% pure soapstone, which is non-porous, meaning, there will be no odor or taste to tarnish your drink.
The majority of respondents were superbly pleased with the stones, but mainly because they looked super cool in their drinks and made them look fancy in the eyes of their mates. But truth be told, the cooling properties of these stones leave much to be desired.
6 Handcrafted Premium Granite Round Sipping Rocks – Hardwood Presentation & Storage Tray | R.O.C.K.S.
These six handcrafted granite round rocks are slightly bigger than the ones from above, and are also cheaper. However, these stones again won’t come with any other additional accouterments except for a hardwood storage tray. Each of the six eco-friendly sipping rocks has different colors and granite style making them unique and original. They indeed look very elegant and stylish and would be a fantastic gift for anyone who cares about aesthetics and authenticity.
Besides, the customers also shared the same sentiment regarding the classy elegance and refinement of those stones. On top of that, however, they also praised their cooling capabilities, all of which makes these stones very easy to recommend to anyone who cares about what they put in a drink.
6 Stainless Steel Ice Cubes with Tongs for Whiskey & Wine | Kollea
This set stands out from the previously described because the Kollea stones are made of steel rather than granite or soapstone. They are also priced affordably and would be slightly more expensive than regular soapstones, but the price difference is just nominal and not critical. These stones are made of food-grade stainless steel and passed all FDA certifications, so they are completely safe. The secret behind the enhanced cooling properties of these stones lies in the cooling gel inside which greatly extends the chilling time.
The stones come in a plastic storage tray with tongs included, all gift-wrapped in an elegant cardboard box.
The customers were impressed with the quality of the stones, many agreed that they indeed helped to chill their drinks. Those, who complained, often mentioned the flimsy construction of a storage or freezing tray, which many thought should be a little sturdier and more durable.
6 Whiskey Stainless Steel Bullet Chillers – Gift Box, Tongs & Storage Bag | The Wine Savant
The last option we’re about to cover is also made of stainless steel but comes in a fantastically innovative and creative shape of bullets. In case any of your friends is a gun enthusiast, they might indeed appreciate such an original gift. These bullets are designed after a .300 Blackout/ .9mm size and weigh somewhat like a real cartridge. Almost everyone actually purchased these ones as a gift for gun or ammunition lovers. However, those who actually used it themselves didn’t notice any noticeable difference in the coolness of their drinks unless they put all six of these in a drink, which as you may have guessed, doesn’t sound very practical.
Can whiskey stones be used in other drinks (beer, coffee, scotch, rum, wine)?
Yes, of course. Although, using stones in wine is quite questionable, aesthetically wise. But yes, you can.
Can whiskey stones be reused?
Yes. You can reuse them as many times as you like.
Can whiskey stones go in the dishwasher?
Some of them are dishwasher safe, while others are not. Please, check the label or product description for stones of your choice and see if they can be placed in the dishwasher or simply rinsed under the tap.
Can whiskey stones be heated?
No. I don’t think they can. A brief search also didn’t reveal anything important. Apparently you’re the only person asking this.
Can I leave whiskey stones in the freezer?
Of course. Actually, this is exactly what you need to do. Place stones in the freezer for at least an hour, then put them in your drink. Simple as that.
Comparative chart of Whiskey Stones
From what I’ve heard and have been told by my ex, the whiskey is best taken neat. You can, however, add a splash of water into it, to open up the flavors and subtle nuances of taste, or dull the alcohol part a bit, especially if it’s more than 50% or something. However, if you like it chilled, then nothing works better than a crystal clear ice ball, which melts way slower than regular ice cubes, because of its size and shape, and also because it adds some water into the spirit which helps the whiskey have a rounder, smoother taste.
And I think my ex was not the only person who shared the same views. Look at this guy, for example, who goes into greater detail on how to properly enjoy your spirit:
Well, even if you decide to stick with plain ice, whiskey stones would still be a great addition to your bar accessories. They are in fashion, they can make a statement at any party, they’ll instantly put you in a spotlight, or might serve as an original conversation starter. In any case, with the options we’ve provided, we’re confident you’ll choose only the best whiskey cubes out there. Happy drinking!